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Hullabaloo


Saturday, April 28, 2012

 
Guilty until proven innocent

by digby

I wrote about this case earlier, but the jury was still out on whether he was going to be compensated. It's now in, and it's good news:

The City Council approved a $250,000 settlement Wednesday to a man mistaken by police as a tagger and was hit with a stun gun over and over.

A jury wanted the city to pay for a police officer using excessive force.

Police took down Dan Halsted while he was just innocently walking home. The officer stunned Halsted five times with a Taser in the back because he thought he sprayed some graffiti.

Halsted was tackled by a Portland police officer in the Northeast Portland neighborhood of Sullivan's Gulch four years ago.

"I was walking home and all of a sudden a flashlight came on in my eyes and I stopped, and I heard a voice say, 'Get him!' And I heard footsteps coming at me, so I turned and I ran."

In the pitch dark, Halsted thought he was being jumped.

"I didn't know what was going on," he said. "I was screaming to call the police the whole time, and I didn't realize this was the police because they never identified themselves at all."

Police had mistaken Halsted for a tagger who hit a nearby building.

"The arresting officer in his police report, he made up a whole other story and said that I had been running down the street with a couple other people."

That's the same thing the officer testified to in court when Halsted sued. In reality Halsted had been with friends at the Rose and Thistle Restaurant and was never charged with any crime.

"The whole event was terrifying, but I think the scariest part was their story afterwards – making me sound like a criminal. I think that was the scariest part," he said.


It's shocking to me that the city actually contested this case, but they did and they lost. Thank goodness.

This should be every American's worst nightmare because it could so easily happen to any of us. You're walking down the street, completely innocent of any wrongdoing, and you get tackled, repeatedly hit with electro-shock and beaten by people you assume are criminals. The more you fight for your life, the worse it gets. And they turn out to be police, who then turn the full force of the state against you to cover their mistake.

We're seeing this sort of thing played out in various ways a lot lately, aren't we? I suppose this fellow should be grateful to be alive. If he weren't, nobody would be the wiser, would they?


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